Location! Location! Location!
(San Francisco, CA - June 18, 2009) Just about everyone we know in Los Angeles considers San Francisco to be a great vacation spot. After a short one-hour plane ride or a six-hour drive north, you can be in a classy, stimulating, beautiful and energetically different city with jaw-dropping vistas, lots of culture and a very different pace. Perhaps the center of that pace and its heartbeat are in Union Square, with its plethora of stores, theaters, restaurants, jazz venues, art shows, cable cars and hotels-all within a few feet of each other. A little like New York frenzy only smaller, with more sunshine, fresh breezes and crazy hills. A West Coast vibe.
If you thought of all the hotels in San Francisco as dogs, the Hotel Frank would be pushing towards the front of the pack, a cute and tenacious Boston terrier. I have often thought Boston terriers can look quite stylish in their tuxedo-like black-and-white coloring. I once saw a little Boston terrier jump right into a six-foot wave to fetch a stick, always wanting to be in the center of action. So too is the Hotel Frank. It's located just steps from Union Square on Geary Street, across the street from A.C.T., around the corner from the half-price ticket booth, and perched among five great breakfast places and a dozen different ethnicities' eateries.
Hotel Frank is part of the Personality Hotel group, all renovated hotels in the Union Square district. It is recently opened and newly designed by Thomas Schoos, and stands out for its modern mélange of styles all in black and white, including everything from its large hound's-tooth carpet pattern to the black-and-white designs on the generously plush terrycloth robes provided in your room. It's a hotel that is trying hard to have its own character and stand out from hundreds of competitors.
Originally the hotel was built in 1908, and has been redesigned a couple of times. Its previous incarnation was as the Hotel Maxwell. Because it retains foundational elements of its age, it is difficult for it to seem completely modern. When I asked a few of the hotel staff how they would describe the style, they all kind of gave me a smirk and shrugged their shoulders before speaking. Its website describes it as "stylish" but what style is another question altogether.
Gilded picture frames partially filled with old time prints of black-and-white photos hang on walls throughout, unusual hanging lamp fixtures the likes of which I have never seen in a hotel, hang by the beds, large flat-screen TVs adorn every room, and an unusual turn-of-the-century chandelier with green glass drops is the centerpiece in the mezzanine. You definitely know you're not in a Marriott or Doubletree!
The ancient elevator creaks and fumes at you, but so do the cable cars when you ride them, and that all blends in to create part of the San Francisco charm. We have left suburbia far behind.
From our windows on the eleventh floor, we had a partial view of the Bay and many rooftops. The weekend street musicians' beats wafted up to our windows, but we were able to drown them out by turning on the window air conditioning/heater unit. The large new beds are luxurious: the mattresses feel all pillowy and firm at the same time.
The whole experience was fun and memorable. Another plus for Hotel Frank: They are dog friendly! You can bring your pet for an additional $25 per stay. And unlike some places that are "dog friendly" but don't let you leave your dog in the room while you go to dinner, the Frank allows her to stay while you dine provided you give them your cell phone number. If Fido has a bark fest, you will be notified toute suite for a return.
Valet ($35) or self-parking ($28), both with unlimited ins and outs are available. There is no workout room, but they provide free access to one at the Hotel Diva a few doors down or day membership in a neighborhood health club. Wi-fi is provided throughout for free. The top floor boasts a couple of very large penthouse suites. One has a bathtub in the middle of the bedroom. There is a high ceiling parlor suite on the eighth floor. Ours was a large junior suite, and there are also standard rooms (pictured here).
Prices are reasonable, (starting around $129) and many specials are offered on their website, as well as packages that cater to lovers, dog lovers, families with kids, and whatever else the marketing department can dream up to entice you up for the experience.
With all its innovations and eccentricities, Hotel Frank is bound to become a pack leader. It is certainly worth a try.
Georja Umano is an actress/comedienne and animal advocate.
Photos by Rien van Rijthoven
386 Geary Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
Personality Hotels Reservations: 1.800.553.1900
Email: [email protected]
Personality Hotels San Francisco
Hotel Union Square
Kensington Park Hotel